The Damn Power Generators
A few years back, I didn’t have the privilege of knowing what a power generator looked like. To me it was a strange name which I failed to put a face to since it was not in my league of interest. But this situation has dramatically changed. Ironically, my source of enlightenment on power generators actually came by way of the darkness initiated by the severe electricity outages which Gaza has been continuously enduring for over seven years now. Of course if my memory has not failed me, electricity outages were always there ever since we were children, but not with the same intensity as have been since the Siege over Gaza imposed after the Palestinians’ democratic elections took place in January 2006.
Power generators come in different sizes and capacities. When the electricity in the neighborhood is cut of, every house starts to turn on their motor whether manually or automatically depending on size. During the day, as I walk down the street past the shops, I can feel the ground underneath shaking and the noise is boisterous. Ubiquitous motors lined up and chained in front of stores give off a most deadly fume. This evening I wanted to go out to the balcony to hang up the laundry. As I opened the door I was received with a most vociferous welcome by the neighborhood motors. Even on evenings when the electricity is on, the buzzing of the deadly drones take over to give you a feeling of anticipated strikes. As I stand at the window, an empty feeling resonates within and feel alienated from pure and beautiful nature. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the war on Gaza three years ago. I remember how impenetrable darkness conquered the scene and nothing could be seen with the naked human eyes except the light of the drones and war planes above. I guess from then I had begun to lose my harmony with the sky and stars I was so fond of throughout my life.
Yesterday evening, I went out with my six year old daughter, Nada, in an attempt to appease her after having a tantrum from being bored. I held her hand and went down the noisy yet dark street. The street lights were out, but generators were growling. As we reached the shop lined streets which were lit thanks to the motors, I realized how shopping had become the less popular leisure activity for a girl on this part of the world. I didn’t want my daughter to inhale the fumes, but maintained calm and only hastened my steps every time we passed a generator.
The story of the power generators does not stop here; it isn’t only about noise and air pollution. Dozens of people have been killed due to generator -related accidents. The stories are horrible mostly including children. In one family, three children died as they tried to escape through their bedroom window when the power generator exploded causing a fire to break out. What is even worse is that people who own power motors store gallons of liquid fuel inside their houses which has led to even more hazardous outcomes. Over time people have become more aware of the hazards and began to take precautions, but the major problem still continues to pose long-term effects on the population.
In the mornings, my wish is that the children of Gaza wake up to the singing of birds and retire to the natural sounds of nocturnals even if it be the chirping of crickets. That way, when my children ask me what the source of the noise is, and why it’s there, I’ll readily have an answer they can easily swallow.